To Have One’s Head Or Nose In A Book Meaning


If you saw someone with their “nose in a book” what would you think? Are they sleeping?  Did they play with the glue too much? 

I often think of the phrase “It’s better to have your nose in a book than in someone else’s life or problems.” When we think about phrases like this, the literal meaning can be a bit funny – yet confusing! This is an idiom.

Nose in a book meaning

This is an idiomatic expression that refers to a person who is always reading and describes someone who is immersed in reading whenever they can. This expression came alive in the mid 1900’s and is relatively popular. When we use:

Example of “Nose in a Book.”

  • My son has always been a good student and loves to read, he always has always has   his nose in a book.
  • I remember when I was young many kids picked on me and called me a nerd for having my nose in book.


Jack: Hey, Bill, is that you?!”

Bill:Jack!? Wow, you look great!How have you been?What have you been up to the last 20 years?

Jack:Yep, the one and only!I’ve been great.I am married and have two kids. You?

Bill:Fantastic!I am well, too.I am married with three boys and living in NYC now. You have two kids? Boys?Girls?

Jack:We have a boy and a girl.Our girl takes after my wife and is into sports and is a social butterfly.My son, Marlon, is just like me and is twelve years old.

Bill: Congratulations.Well I hope they both look like your wife! Your son, “does he always have his head in a book like you did?

Jack: Ha ha. Yes, they both look more like their mom. My son, yeah, he is always reading and loves to read his books on a tablet, so he doesn’t have really have his head in a book like I did. I think I still have ink on my nose! But, yes, he loves to read like I did.

Other words you can create: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc (ex: mug – mugger)

As mentioned, “have your nose in a book” is an idiomatic phrase so their form does not really change.

 However, there are some variations: “have one’s nose in book.” Also, the pronoun can change, have your nose in a book, have his (her) nose in a book, has his nose in a book, my nose in a book” would be some examples. 

We can also words like “bury,” for example: “She will bury her head in a book and isolate herself when she needs to relax.”


We often see this word when we talk about or describing people who might be introverted, intellectual, cerebral, bookish, brainy, highbrowed a studious. 

Some examples of collocations we would use with these would would be:

  • I would describe myself as a bit of an intellectual, I often have my nose in a book.
  • Professor Jenkins always seems to have his nose in a book, he is so cerebral!
  • I would describe my daughter as a little bookish, she always has her nose in a book
  • I would say I was considered brainy when I was a child, I always had my nose in a book.
  • My new boss is kind of highbrowed, he is always talking about and quoting famous authors and at lunch time and breaks he always has his head in a book.
  • I have always had an insatiable appetite for books and was always very studious, always having my head in a book.

Related phrasal verbs

Flicking through: to look through a book, article, or magazine in a quick manner.

  • I was flicking through my English text book before the test.

Flipped through: to review in a short time an article, book, or reading material.

  • My wife was flipping through a magazine when she found a great recipe for apple pie.

Thumbed through: to review, read or scan a piece of reading material quickly.

  • While waiting for my son’s doctor’s appointment I thumbed through a children’s story book and it reminded me of my childhood.

Read through: to read something from beginning to end. Often related to proofreading or to verify that the piece of reading his error free.

  • I read through his essay and found several spelling and grammatical mistakes.

Read over: this Phrasal verb is like read through, however it doesn’t necessarily mean that you read something from start to finish. 

  • I read over a few sentences and everything look good.

Pour over: we often use this phrasal verb to describe a person who reads something in detail.

  • I poured over the research articles and decided I need to do more research before I started my research.

Wade through: this is a phrasal verb that we use to describe reading material, usually a lot of material. Often times the material a person “wades through” isn’t interesting for the person and could be considered a tedious task.

  • I had to wade through a lot of irrelevant information to find one idea that might work for our new project.

Plough through: this has a similar meaning to “wade through” but we generally use it to describe reading something in great detail that is long as well as difficult.

  • We spent the whole night ploughing through the material and still can find the information we need to complete the project.”

Read up on: when we use this phrasal verb we often will use it indicate that we ware reading material to become current or more knowledgeable about something or someone.

  • I need to read up on phrasal verbs as they are problematic for me.

Related idioms:

1. A closed book: The opposite to being an open book, if you are a closed book, you are a mystery. It can also mean you are something that cannot be understood. This English idiom can be used to describe people as well as topics.

  • My wife always complains I never share anything with her, she tells me I am a closed book!

2. Be an open book: To be an open book means you are a very open person who hides nothing from others. If people seek out information from you, you freely give it without hesitation.

  • My boss said he has nothing to hide and he is who he is an open book.

3. Can’t judge a book by its cover: If you hear someone say this English idiom, they mean you can’t judge a person, experience, object, etc. just by what you see.

It is most often used in situations where the person appears unintelligent, boring, or like they possess any other negative characteristics.

  • My wife said when she met me I came across as being arrogant. I told her to never judge a book by it’s cover.

4. The oldest trick in the book: The oldest trick in the book refers to a commonly used method to trick or deceive someone.

  • He told me that his dog ate his homework. That’s the oldest trick in the book.

5. Crack a book: If you crack a book you open it, you are beginning to study or to research information.

  • I need to crack the books I have an exam on Friday.

6. Read someone like a book: To read someone like a book means you know all there is to know about a person, especially their thoughts or reasons for doing something.

  • I know when my sons are not telling the truth as they always put their hands behind their backs. I can read them like a book.

7. Balance the books: Balancing the books is the process where you ensure that the amount of money (personal or business) coming in and going out matches up to what your records show.

You then make sure that balance matches what the bank says your balance is.

  • I need to balance the books before the auditor comes.

8. By the book: Doing something by the books means you strictly follow the rules and guidelines.

  • My boss is always so strict and is always “by the book” when it comes to company policies, I wish he would loosen up!

Synonyms (other ways to say):

  • Have one’s head in a book
  • Bury your head in a book
  • Book Worm
  • Book lover
  • Bibliomaniac
  • Bibliophile
  • Book feeding insect
  • Bookish
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